This was really interesting to me. University of California researcher Matt Walker, PhD found that sleep deprived people feel lonelier and are less likely to engage with others, avoiding close contact, similar to people with social anxiety, reports Sleep Review Magazine. Not only that, this situation seems to send out a weird signal to those around a sleep deprived person making them more socially undesirable. Yikes! Get this, even someone who is well-rested will feel lonely after just hanging out with someone who is sleep deprived, almost like a virus of social isolation.
The study also looked at the brain activity of those who were sleep deprived while they watched a video of a person walking toward them and saw increased brain activity in areas that seem to light up when a person feels their personal space being violated (think about a close-talker here from Seinfeld- do you remember that episode?) It’s like a crazy cycle, the more sleep deprived you are the less you want to socially interact, then others also find you socially unattractive, and you can get stuck in a crazy loop, which seems to cause loneliness.
Loneliness is a HUGE problem here in the US, about half of people feel lonely regularly and it has been found to increase mortality by more than 45%. It seems too coincidental to me that we have seen a spike in people feeling lonely at about the same rate we see them being sleep deprived.
So what can you do about it?
Step 1: Check out my Bedtime Calculator to determine what the best time is for you to go to bed and wake up.
Step 2: Consider my 5 Steps to Sleep Better Tips.
Step 3: If you want a foolproof way to improve your sleep quality and reduce sleep deprivation sign up for my How to Sleep Better Course.
Dr. Michael Breus